The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Creatures of ancient descent, first seen on 23 February III 3019;1 the mount of the Lord of the Nazgûl was slain on 15 March III 3019, and all the remaining Creatures2 ten days later on 25 March
Location
Originating in Mordor
Origins
Raised by Sauron as airborne mounts for the Nazgûl
Species
Unknown (see text)
Settlements
Associated with the strongholds of Sauron and the Nazgûl, particularly Barad-dûr and Minas Morgul
Other names
Hell-hawks; also known, especially when mounted by Nazgûl, as Winged Shadows or Winged Terrors

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About this entry:

  • Updated 23 March 2021
  • This entry is complete

Winged Creatures

Airborne mounts of the Nazgûl

Fetid black creatures raised by Sauron as flying mounts for his Ringwraiths. That ridden by the Lord of the Nazgûl at the Battle of the Pelennor was described as naked and featherless, with wings of hide like a bat, and a long, sinuous neck. In Ithilien, though, Frodo compared these beasts to giant carrion birds, a comparison that doesn't appear to match the other more detailed description. Perhaps he was describing their wheeling, watchful flight, rather than the appearance of the Creatures themselves.

Whatever the nature of the Winged Creatures, it seems that those used by the Nazgûl were the last of their kind in Middle-earth, and had been grown to an unnatural size by Sauron. Despite their size, they were not supernatural beings, but living creatures, and they could be hurt and slain: Legolas shot one with an arrow on the River Anduin, and Éowyn slew another on the Pelennor Fields. The Winged Creatures of the Nazgûl perished in Mordor, where they were caught with their masters in the erupting fires of Mount Doom.


Notes

1

That is, the Winged Creatures were first encountered by outsiders on this date (specifically by the Fellowship of the Ring on the Great River). The Winged Creatures must have existed in Mordor for some time before this (and indeed they were said to derive from an ancient lineage).

2

The eight surviving Nazgûl and their mounts were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Doom in the War of the Ring. This does not necessarily mean, of course, that all the Winged Creatures in existence were destroyed at that time, and indeed it seems reasonable to presume that there were others held in reserve. Whether any of these survived the Downfall of Barad-dûr is impossible to say.

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About this entry:

  • Updated 23 March 2021
  • This entry is complete

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